Monday, 26 August 2013

40 Players in 40 Days: Number 3 Will Sutton

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The countdown of the top 40 players in the Pac-12 has reached the top three and with it comes the conference's best defensive player. This young man was having a pedestrian career through his first two years on the field but broke out in a big way in 2012. Few people in the Pac-12 knew this man's name at the start of the 2012 season. By the end of the year, everyone in the nation knew exactly who this guy is. The third best player in the Pac-12 eats a plate of despair for breakfast with a glass of fear on the side, he is Arizona State senior defensive tackle Will Sutton. The first 37 players to be revealed on the countdown are:

40. WR Chris Harper, Cal
39. OLB/S Dion Bailey, USC
38. S Alden Darby, Arizona State
37. OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
36. DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado
35. S Deon Bucannon, Washington State
34. LB Shaq Thompson, Washington
33. DE Taylor Hart, Oregon
32. DT DeAndre Coleman, Cal
31. CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
30. C Hroniss Grassu, Oregon
29. DL Henry Anderson, Stanford
28. QB Kevin Hogan, Stanford
27. LB Carl Bradford, Arizona State
26. RB Storm Woods, Oregon State
25. QB Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
24. DL Cassius Marsh, UCLA
23. S Ed Reynolds, Stanford
22. OT Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah
21. TE Colt Lyerla, Oregon
20. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington
19. DT Leonard Williams, USC 
18. WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State 
17. OL Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
16. OLB/DL Trent Murphy, Stanford
15. OL David Yankey, Stanford
14. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
13. LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
12. DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State
11. RB Marion Grice, Arizona State
10. LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
9. DE/OLB Morgan Breslin, USC
8. CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
7. RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
6. QB Brett Hundley, UCLA
5. RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
4. OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Sutton wasn't just under the radar before last season, he had been a ghost on the national scene since high school. Sutton was ranked 40th overall, in Arizona, as a recruit. Sutton chose to stay local with the Sun Devils who were one of only three schools from one of the "Power-Five" conferences to offer Sutton a scholarship. Sutton worked his way into the lineup as a true freshman and recorded 17 tackles and a sack in 10 games. The ASU coaches at the time seemed to like Sutton and were looking to get him more involved in the defense as a sophomore in 2010. However, an injury forced him to miss the entire 2010 season and take a medical redshirt. He returned to the field in 2011 and recorded 33 tackles and made a few starts as he started to look like a quality Pac-12 defensive lineman. Through three years in the program, Sutton was a good, not great player who was performing right on par with what the recruiting experts expected of him.

then 2012 rolled around, with a new regime in Tempe led by defensive minded Todd Graham as head coach. under Graham's new leadership, Sutton blossomed into a superstar. Seemingly out of nowhere, Sutton became an unblockable force and recorded 23.5 tackles for loss (second in the nation) and 13 sacks (third). Sutton turned into an overnight sensation in the Pac-12 and was named the conference's defensive player of the year and a consensus All-American.
So, what made Sutton turn into such a beast? Here's a little game film to explain how he became a star.

I'm sure you will notice right away just how quick he is. At 0:24, watch how he just leaves the left tackle in the dust. It is not normal for a 300 pounder to move with such ease but look at how he uses his feet and hands to set up like he's rushing outside and make a quick move inside to beat the tackle. He didn't even get a good jump off the line yet he got to the quarterback and was hardly touched on the way there. At 0:47, you can see the kind of explosiveness he has off the line. He runs a stunt move which means he is lined up at defensive end, face up over the tackle but he runs to the middle of the formation and rushes against the center at the snap of the ball. He makes one slide step inside to the right at the snap and then watch his explosiveness as he blows through the offensive line for what should have been a sack. At 4:24, you can see how he complements his absurd quickness with great strength. Instead of trying to work his way around the guard, he engages him with his hands and just bull rushes right through him to pressure the QB into throwing before he wanted to.

There are only a handful of defensive linemen in college football every year who can move the way Sutton can. However, it is hard to think of a second defensive lineman anywhere in college football who can equal Sutton's combination of quickness and strength. he has very well developed pass rush moves particularly his swim move and his bull rush. I also like how he finds the ball very effectively and can easily get off blocks and chase down the ball carrier in the run game. As you can see throughout the clip above, he can line up at all three D-line spots in a 3-4 and can pass rush in any direction from all three positions. That versatility combined with his talent will make him highly sought after by NFL scouts. His height definitely hurts him a little but, his ability and game film should be enough to get him into the late first round/early second round.

His numbers last year were absurdly high and he is bound for a regression to the mean but last season was no fluke. This is a special defensive lineman and a guy who cannot be blocked by just one man no matter how good that one man is.

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